Climbing Mount Everest: Should mountaineers only need apply?

As some of the curious g readers know, I have a fascination with the glorious, treacherous Mount Everest. Having had the pleasure of seeing the summit on a stunningly clear day (from a plane!), the world’s highest mountain possesses a special place in my travel experiences. Check out a few older posts – High-altitude sickness and Mount Everest is how high?

Don’t climb every mountain

The close of the 2012 climbing season has left many people scratching their heads. With the number of summits – over 500 – and the continuing rise in deaths – 10, experts agree that qualifications to climb the mountain must change.

Mount Everest, mountaineering, adventure tourism, economic impact on developing nations, dangers and inexperience in mountaineering, Image Ralf Dujmovits

This photo shown round the world summed up one of the many problems of the climbing season. This line of climbers snaking upward at over 28,000 feet (8,500+ meters) had those of us at sea level gasping for air. It’s clear that while the revenue from climbers provides much needed income for the locals, the risks involved for Sherpas and experienced mountaineers have skyrocketed. Climbing Mount Everest has become a hobby – a playground for the rich and unqualified.

Given the bad weather conditions and overcrowding, one major company, the owner and operator of Himalayan Experience Russell Brice, told his entire team of more than 60 members that he was canceling the rest of their season. Good on him.

Adventure tourism still doesn’t work

Clearly little has been learned from the 1996 tragedy. Take a look at this infographic. The number of successful summits from 1981 to 2006 has increased by nearly 3,000. Add approximately another 1,500 successes to that over the last six years. Add to that number those who get up as far as 8,000 meters and turn back or attempt to, and you’ve got an accident waiting to happen in The Death Zone.

Mount Everest, mountaineering, adventure tourism, economic impact on developing nations, dangers and inexperience in mountaineering,

Mount Everest: Delete it from your bucket list

It’s not clear how the Nepalese government (they control the permits) will handle the 2013 season and beyond. The professional climbing community has issued several pleas to them to introduce stricter regulations – to control both the number of tourists and to filter out those not physically fit to make the climb.

No comment as yet, I’ll keep you posted.

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Everest extras: Slideshows (and a quiz)

Top image: Ralf Dujmovits

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